Three Hopkins County magistrates have aligned themselves with a union’s effort to move a coal company's bankruptcy case to a coal producing region despite legal advice to stay out of the matter. In July, Patriot Coal filed for bankruptcy in New York – an area far from coal producing regions.
The United Mine Workers requested the fiscal court support the resolution because retired miners' health benefits might be in jeopardy. After the court’s Tuesday meeting, Christopher Toney, Karol Welch and Maurice Wilson signed the resolution.
Welch says Patriot Coal promised to take care of the miners “from cradle to grave” because of the intensity of the work. She wants to hold them to that promise. She says,
“They realized that they owed an obligation to the families that have made them what they are. And now they are trying to say we can’t do this any longer, and there’s less people. They’re dying off. There’s less people to take care of.”
The Madisonville Messenger reports County Attorney Todd P’Pool has advised the court to stay out of the case because it did not directly affect the county. He also says the union brought the case to multiple counties to find a judge who would rule in its favor.